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Remote Cameras
Prepared by Chiemi Nagle, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Kauaʻi

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Overview

Reconyx PC900 Hyperfire Professional Covert Camera Trap COST: $649.99

  • 20 active in the Upper Limahuli Preserve (ULP)

  • Dimensions: 5.5"H x 4.5"W x 3"D

  • Rugged weatherproof enclosure

  • No glow high output covert infrared night vision up to 60 feet

  • Image Resolution: 3.1 mega-pixels; colour by day, monochrome infrared by night

  • Trigger Speed: 1/5th second

  • Memory Card Type: 32GB SD card

  • Batteries: 12 AA Lithiums or NiMH rechargeables

  • Battery life: up to 40,000 images

  • Program settings on camera and/or via SD card on a PC using the ‘Professional Settings’ software

  • Comes with instruction manual, 10-pack of desiccant and adjustable bungee cord with hook

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Reconyx PC900C Hyperfire Cellular Professional Covert Camera Trap COST: $1,199.98

  • 12 active in ULP

  • Same general features as the PC900

  • 3G cellular modem transmits large thumbnail images (384 x 512) in near real-time via MMS text/email (AT&T) or Data email (Verizon)

  • Battery life: up to 5,000 images

  • Program settings on camera and/or via SD card on a PC using the ‘Security Settings’ software

  • Comes with instruction manuals, SIM card, basic cellular antenna, 10-pack of desiccant and adjustable bungee cord with hook

Click to See Full Sized Images

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Reconyx PC900, PC900C, instruction manual, desiccant and bungee cord (Image source: www.reconyx.com)

Settings

PC900C

  • You will need a good WIFI connection and good cell service in order to complete activation of a cellular camera

  • Activate camera as a ‘Connected Device’ with Verizon at: www.verizonwireless.com/activatedevice. Be sure to ‘Provision Your Account’ on the camera

  • Once the camera has been assigned a phone number, label it inside the camera and take note of the serial number. Images will be emailed from an address that includes the last four numbers of the serial number on the camera. For example - P900HJ11268405@reconyx.com

  • Insert the SD card into a computer and open the ‘Security Settings’ program to select and save all settings to the SD card

  • Select to ‘send daily status picture’ which will verify that the camera is working, shows the current battery percentage, memory card capacity percent and number of pictures taken

  • Only two email addresses can be programmed into each camera; I recommend creating a group email address specifically for camera email images that can easily be accessed by everyone on your team

  • Enter one phone number to receive error text messages from the camera (failed to send, weak signal etc). Note: If you start getting more text messages saying there was an error sending photos, it could be because the batteries are getting weak

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Click to See Full Sized Images

Field Installation

Set-up

  • Place cameras where you want to capture predator activity, make sure the vegetation is out of the camera's field of view

  • Most of the cameras in ULP are on main trails, at trail junctions or on live traps

  • Mount camera on a tree trunk with the adjustable bungee cord or on a PVC pipe with a thunderbolt mounting block. To prevent rusting mounting blocks, spray them with WD40 or similar before setting them out

  • Height of a camera varies; cameras in the ULP range from about a foot off the ground to chest height depending on the terrain

  • For the PC900C, make sure you choose a location that also has a good site for the directional antenna - relatively high with an unobstructed view to the nearest cell tower. Check the signal strength using the ‘Check Cellular’ option on the camera

  • Use a scent lure to attract predators close to the cameras to get close-up detailed images of distinct markings

  • It is important to use the Walktest mode! It allows you to precisely determine the cameras active motion detection zones - insuring the aim is exactly where you want to capture animal activity

  • Secure all cables to prevent damage in high winds or bad weather

Click to See Full Sized Images

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PC900 Set Up

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PC900C Set Up

Camera Checks

Reconyx PC900 

  • Detect predators in ULP preserve-wide

  • View interactions in the field

 

At the Camera:

  • Replace desiccant

  • Check battery percentage

  • Swap out SD card

  • Record camera check in iForm

 

At the Weatherport:

  • Look through all SD cards at the end of the day on field laptop

  • Save all images of predators, interesting/new interactions, native species or other animals that have not been observed before, on a jump drive which are then saved on the file server in the office

Click to See Full Sized Images

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Barn Owl (left) and Pueo (right) seen on camera

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Reconyx PC900C 

  • Receive almost immediate notification via email of predator interactions in areas with consistent Verizon service anytime of any day

  • Receive near real-time captures in a variety of live traps which can be left open 24 hours a day, even with no staff in the field

  • Each camera sends a daily status photo between 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm showing SD card capacity percent, battery percent and how many photos are on the camera

Click to See Full Sized Images

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Daily status emails from PC900C cameras

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iForm layout

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Feral cat capture in a leg hold trap via email

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iForm layout

Inquisitive feral cats seen on main trails where scent lures had been placed

Lessons

  • Reconyx cameras are expensive but they are very good tools that withstand harsh field conditions

  • Lithium batteries last at least six months in non-email cameras

  • Rubber door seals can pop out which let moisture inside the camera; silicone seal works but is very tacky

  • Make sure the rubber gasket (where the cord attaches) on top of the camera stays in place

  • When you check a camera in the rain, be sure to cover the camera while opening it so the batteries, terminals and springs stay dry

  • If you get an error such as ‘SD card locked’ it usually means there is debris in the SD card slot that can be easily blown out

  • A few cameras had corrupt motherboards in that case, return them to Reconyx to be repaired for free which can take up to a couple of weeks

  • Each time we check the non-email cameras, the images we are seeing are up to two+ weeks old

  • We work in a private preserve with minimal security issues

Click to See Full Sized Images

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  • PC900C

    • Verizon has the best coverage in ULP although consistent service is limited to ridges

  • You have to set the camera up at your work site and ‘Check cellular’ to verify signal strength as camera service does not always match cell phone service

  • Cost of $5/month per device to add to an existing account

  • Once triggered, the camera will take five consecutive images and then work on emailing them out; it cannot take more photos until it has successfully sent the first group of images

  • Daily status photos and email capability means you only open the camera to change batteries

  • The directional antenna is light and easy to move around; needs a clear straight-shot view to the nearest cell tower

  • Check email daily; since May 2017, we have received 1,728 emails

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Purchasing

  • Purchase from Reconyx.com

    • PC900 Hyperfire Professional Covert Camera Trap $649.99

    • PC900C Hyperfire Cellular Professional Covert Camera Trap $1,199.98

    • KIUC bulk ordered AA lithium batteries

    • High Gain Directional Cellular Antenna $119.99 - includes 10’ cable, needs to be positioned and mounted properly for optimal performance, dimensions: 11.42" x 8.27" x 2.56"

    • ThunderBolt Professional Mounting Block $29.99 - can be used with any sized rod or pipe from a 13/32" electric fence post up to a 1" pipe

    • 32GB SD card or smaller $39.99

    • Desiccant Bulk Pack - Universal $39.99 - includes 10 packs of 10 colour indicating moisture absorbing desiccant pouches

    • Shipping costs are expensive online, give them a ring and they can usually bring that cost down

    • All free software is available on their website

Miscellaneous Details

  • Set up the first Reconyx camera in ULP in 2013

  • Previously tried Moultrie game cameras which took a photo and immediate 3-second video; took C batteries that had to be changed often, not waterproof, poor image quality, tried powering with solar panel accessory but did not hold up to ULP conditions. Also tried the SpartanGo camera which could only be set up with AT&T at the time and would not get consistent service anywhere on the trails, we were using rechargeable batteries that wouldn’t last long and they were often full of condensation

Click to See Full Sized Images

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Miscellaneous Details
Purchasing
Lessons
Camera Checks
Field Installation
Settings
Overview
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